“Alberto Burri: The Trauma of Painting”
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Burri (1915–1995), an Italian abstractionist, is generally associated with Art Informel, the Continental analog to American Abstract Expressionism, though he rebuffed such comparisons. His use of throwaway materials—plywood, plastic sheeting, burlap—anticipated Arte Povera. But what distinguishes Burri’s compositions is his violent treatment of the canvas, which he tears or dots with holes burned through the surface. Unlike his contemporary Lucio Fontana, who slashed paintings to suggest a theoretical space behind the pictorial realm, Burri engaged in cathartic acts— a way, perhaps, to deal with memories of a war still fresh at the time.